of Secret Sin
The Story of Achan from Joshua 4
Illustration: In a conservative southern church, the pastor's wife found pornography on her husband's computer. After confronting him with the evidence, he admitted downloading the images off the internet, even using the computer in his study which was located in the church itself. Somehow he had separated his ongoing sexual sin from his responsibilities and duties as a man of God.
Illustration: In an August 2000 poll conducted by Christianity Today on internet pornography, 33% of active ministers admitted having visited porn sites. Over half of those ministers said that they had visited those sites more than once. A total of 18 percent of clergy said they visit sexually explicit Web sites between a couple of times a month and more than once a week. This poll includes many liberal and 'mainstream' ministers, but it would be very naive to think that porn was not a problem for some bible-believing ministers.
Illustration: In another bible-believing church not far from my home, a Christian businessman sought investment capital from other Christian individuals and businesses. He promised to invest the money in new Christian enterprises and promised a high rate of return on their money. Alas, however, there was no new enterprise, and there was no return on their money. He had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from his fellow Christians. He was charged by civil authorities and jailed. The unbelieving world had another excuse to demean biblical Christianity.
Illustration: A nice Christian family joined the church by letter from another city. Brad and Susan had four wonderful little boys ranging in age from two years up to ten years. Susan had a beautiful voice and sang specials in the church. Brad was a bible teacher and had taught sunday school at their former church. But Brad and Susan had a terrible secret. He had a terrible temper that caused him to abuse Susan both physically and emotionally. No one in the church had any idea until she took her boys and left to return to her hometown. Brad followed her back and tried to reconcile with her. But his secret was now public and there was no turning back.
I speak tonight on SECRET SIN. Proverbs 28:13 says. "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." The word "covereth" means to hide or conceal. The word "prosper" means to advance, succeed, make progress. There are professing Christians in almost every church who believe that they are prospering in spite of hidden, secret sins; they have convinced themselves that their sin is condoned by God. But there is no real success when you carry the baggage of secret sin in your life.
There is a bible story which proves this truth. I direct you to one of the saddest and sternest passages anywhere in the bible, Joshua chapter seven.
This is a very disturbing story for most of us. It would seem to our modern minds that God was too hard on Achan. The religious liberal may say that the punishment did not fit the crime. But verse 26 seems to suggest that God approved of the punishment of Achan. But what about his family? Surely his children were innocent! And his animals? Why execute his animals? The story of Achan and his secret sin reveals some pertinent truths for Christians in this age of grace. As we examine the story, let us realize the seriousness of secret sins in our lives.
As a background, look at the meaning of the names of Achan's family tree:
Achan = "troubler" a stealing generationNotice the downward progression with each generation looking all the way back to Achan's great-grandfather. Zerah's life had been a success; but his son Zabdi was supplied by Zerah's riches. Achan's father's name, Carmi, denotes selfishness, bringing us to Achan himself, the troubler. Achan paid for his secret sin with his life and the life of his family.
I. Achan Lost
the Fight with his People
Sadly, the defeat of the Israelites could be traced back to the sin of one man. God had placed a ban on all items of value belonging to the inhabitants of Jericho. This was done for the good of the Israelites and for the glory of God. As God provided for their every need, they had no reason to desire the worldly articles of Jericho. Also, God did not want the heathen to be able to say that Israel had gotten rich because of their enemies. Achan's sin was greater than he could understand. It brought shame and reproach on Israel and dishonor to God. But God had brought the defeat of Achan's people because of Achan's sin. Our secret sins are always greater than we think. We cause defeat in the lives of our family members, our church, and the cause of Christ. Achan never believed his sin would result in such a humiliating defeat.
Achan Lost the Fortune that He Gained.
The Babylonish garment
is of special interest. History tells us that these types of garments
were embroidered and interwoven with pictures and images. These clothes
were usually purple or scarlet in color and denoted wealth and power.
This garment represents the worldliness of the believer. The gold
and silver also represent the temporal power of the world system.
The important thought here is that all that Achan tried to accumulate outside
of the will of God was lost in the end. Those who hide their sin
and continue to delight in it will one day lose all the benefits gained
by that sin. "Be not deceived. God is not mocked; Whatsoever a man
soweth, that shall he also reap."
III. Achan Lost
the Fullness of his Inheritance
How many Christians have sold their inheritance for moments of passion or pleasure? Achan had no idea when he picked up the accursed items of Jericho that he would completely lose his future blessings. No doubt he looked forward with great anticipation to having his own land and home in this beautiful and productive land. But that terrible sin, committed on the spur of the moment, and then hidden from all except God, destroyed Achan's chance at a happy life. The Apostle John reminds us,Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. (2 John 1:8) Each Christian has the potential for a full reward, and only sin and disobedience can stop us from receiving that reward. Secret sins are never worth the cost!
Lost the Family of his Heart
Do not blame God for harshly judging Achan and his family. He tried and condemned himself. He sentenced himself. And his family also. (Numbers 14:18) The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
V. Achan Lost the
Fulfillment of his Purpose
Achan's name means "troubler." But he did not have to die in the way that he did. God could have fulfilled His purpose in Achan's name by allowing him to be such a good soldier that he "troubled" the enemy at every point. God desired that Achan would take his place among his people, that he would occupy his place and give honor to God. But Achan's sin had too great of a hold on him. He just could not let it go!
Another Spurgeon illustration:, Secret sin is like a pet dog. When you open the door of your house, he goes out into the street. You can try to chase him down and quiet him, but he barks and tells your business.
Christian friend, go not continue to hide your sin. Don't harbor that sin, buried deep in the tent floor of your heart. It will affect your family, your home, your spiritual inheritance, and your purpose in life. There is no sin worthy of separating us from our Father. It is not necessary to confess your secret sins to everyone, for it is none of their business. Do business with God. Repent and let God restore you to fellowship.
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